Court affirms summary judgment in favor of McDermott International in seaman's injury suit

By Gabriel Neves | Nov 29, 2018

HOUSTON – An Indian citizen who allegedly was injured while working on a ship over Qatari waters had a summary judgment against him affirmed in a Texas court.

State Justice Harvey Brown, on the bench of the Texas 1st Court of Appeals, issued an 11-page ruling on Nov. 15, affirming the 281st District Court of Harris County decision in the lawsuit filed by Andre Nazareth against McDermott International Inc., and McDermott International Vessels Inc.

Nazareth sued Houston-based McDermott over alleged injuries suffered on one of the company's ships while the vessel was en route between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with the incident taking place over the continental shelf of Qatar.

Nazareth attempted to take the case to both Indian and Qatari courts, but both countries refused to hear the case, forcing him to file the suit in Texas, claiming violations of the Jones Act and general maritime law.

"Nazareth used to work as a saturation diver for J Ray McDermott, S.A., a company that provides services to entities in the offshore oil and gas industry," Brown's opinion states. "In June 2013, Nazareth was injured while working aboard a vessel owned by two related McDermott entities, McDermott International Vessels Inc. and McDermott International Inc."

He filed the suit, per the ruling, on allegations of negligence under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness under general maritime law, negligence under Indian law and negligence under lex maritima. McDermott moved for summary judgment alleging that "Nazareth’s claims under the Jones Act and general maritime law were barred by the Jones Act’s foreign seamen exclusion," the ruling states.

The lower court granted the motion and Nazareth filed an appeal, stating that his claims were allowed under the exception to the exclusion.

In his ruling, Brown, citing similar cases, considered that Nazareth failed to meet his burden when trying to establish that there were no legal remedies under the laws of both India and Qatar.

Brown also stated that "Nazareth asserted an India law claim in his amended petition, thereby indicating that a remedy is available to him under the laws of India."

Texas 1st Court of Appeals case number 01-18-00339-CV

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